[ahy-dee-uh, ahy-deeuh]
any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity.
a thought, conception, or notion: That is an excellent idea.
an impression: He gave me a general idea of how he plans to run the department.
an opinion, view, or belief: His ideas on raising children are certainly strange.
a plan of action; an intention: the idea of becoming an engineer.
a groundless supposition; fantasy.
a concept developed by the mind.
a conception of what is desirable or ought to be; ideal.
(initial capital letter) Platonism.. Also called form. an archetype or pattern of which the individual objects in any natural class are imperfect copies and from which they derive their being.
Kantianism. idea of pure reason.
Music. a theme, phrase, or figure.
a likeness.
a mental image.

1400–50; < Late Latin < Greek idéā form, pattern, equivalent to ide- (stem of ideîn to see) + feminine noun ending; replacing late Middle English idee < Middle French < Late Latin, as above; akin to wit1

idealess, adjective
preidea, noun
subidea, noun

1, 2. Idea, thought, conception, notion refer to a product of mental activity. Idea although it may refer to thoughts of any degree of seriousness or triviality, is commonly used for mental concepts considered more important or elaborate: We pondered the idea of the fourth dimension. The idea of his arrival frightened me. Thought which reflects its primary emphasis on the mental process, may denote any concept except the more weighty and elaborate ones: I welcomed his thoughts on the subject. A thought came to him. Conception suggests a thought that seems complete, individual, recent, or somewhat intricate: The architect's conception delighted them. Notion suggests a fleeting, vague, or imperfect thought: a bare notion of how to proceed. 4. sentiment, judgment. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
idea (aɪˈdɪə)
1.  any content of the mind, esp the conscious mind
2.  the thought of something: the very idea appals me
3.  a mental representation of something: she's got a good idea of the layout of the factory
4.  the characterization of something in general terms; concept: the idea of a square circle is self-contradictory
5.  an individual's conception of something: his idea of honesty is not the same as yours and mine
6.  the belief that something is the case: he has the idea that what he's doing is right
7.  a scheme, intention, plan, etc: here's my idea for the sales campaign
8.  a vague notion or indication; inkling: he had no idea of what life would be like in Africa
9.  significance or purpose: the idea of the game is to discover the murderer
10.  philosophy
 a.  a private mental object, regarded as the immediate object of thought or perception
 b.  a Platonic Idea or Form
11.  music a thematic phrase or figure; motif
12.  obsolete a mental image
13.  get ideas to become ambitious, restless, etc
14.  not one's idea of not what one regards as (hard work, a holiday, etc)
15.  that's an idea that is worth considering
16.  the very idea! that is preposterous, unreasonable, etc
[C16: via Late Latin from Greek: model, pattern, notion, from idein to see]
usage  It is usually considered correct to say that someone has the idea of doing something, rather than the idea to do it: he had the idea of taking (not the idea to take) a short holiday

Idea (aɪˈdɪə)
another name for Form

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1430, "figure, image, symbol," from L. idea "idea," and in Platonic philosophy "archetype," from Gk. idea "ideal prototype," lit. "look, form," from idein "to see," from PIE *wid-es-ya-, suffixed form of base *weid- "to see" (see vision). Sense of "result of thinking" first recorded 1645.
"Men of one idea, like a hen with one chicken, and that a duckling." [Thoreau, "Walden"]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

idea i·de·a (ī-dē'ə)
Something, such as a thought or conception, that potentially or actually exists in the mind as a product of mental activity.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Computing Dictionary

IDEA definition

1. Interactive Data Entry/Access.
2. International Data Encryption Algorithm.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
  1. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

  2. International Data Encryption Algorithm

The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see bright idea; put ideas in someone's head; what's the idea.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
No one should be surprised by the notion of teaching as a performance, although
  some of you may be appalled at the idea.
The idea of cherry-picking applies in a number of business contexts.
Blanketing a heartwarming stew with a flaky brown crust is a great idea whose
  time has come.
It's an idea that's easy to pull off in your own kitchen.
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